One of the things that unite Malaysians the best is food! No matter what time of the day it is, our makan sessions are something we look forward to the most. Whether it's over a messy plate of nasi kandar or a hearty bowl of prawn mee noodles, most (if not all) locals will agree that the traditional delicacies in Malaysia are hard to beat.
In celebration of the upcoming National Day, we've rounded up unique dishes from each state that you've got to try at least once (or twice ?). We also share some of the best places you can enjoy these dishes whenever you get the chance to visit the state themselves.
Unique dishes in every state in Malaysia
1. Penang - Char Kuey Teow
Credit: @auntygracekitchen on Instagram
As one of the most popular Penang street food, char kuey teow is a flat rice noodle dish made with stir-fried shrimp, eggs, bean sprouts, cockles and chives in a mix of soy sauce. What makes char kuey teow incredibly delicious is its iconic charred aroma achieved from stir-frying the noodles over high heat in a well-seasoned Chinese wok.
Where to get halal char kuey teow in Penang:
- KOTA Dine & Coffee
- Bee Hwa Cafe
- Bangkok Lane Mee Goren
2. Kelantan - Nasi Kerabu
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A popular breakfast in Kelantan, nasi kerabu consists of blue-coloured rice (dyed using butterfly pea flower), grilled meat or chicken, shrimp crackers, raw herbs, salted egg and more. If you'd love to try this amazing dish when you visit Kelantan, make sure to hit up these 7 best nasi kerabu eateries in Kota Bahru!
Where to get nasi kerabu in Kelantan:
- Lieniey Nasi Kerabu Tumis
- Nasi Kerabu Panji
- Nasi Kerabu Taman Uda
3. Selangor - Satay
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There's nothing quite like dipping your satay into thick, peanut sauce and taking a hearty bite out of it. Served with cucumbers, onions and nasi impit, these grilled skewered meats are packed with tantalising flavours that'll make you reach out for seconds!
Where to get satay in Selangor:
- Satay Kajang Hj Samuri
- Satay Station
- Satay Zainal Ismail
4. Pahang - Gulai Tempoyak Ikan Patin
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Walk up to any locals in Pahang and they’ll rave about the deliciousness of gulai tempoyak ikan patin. Known for their bright curry-like sauce, this traditional dish combines the best of ikan patin and tempoyak (also known as fermented durian).
Where to get gulai tempoyak ikan in Pahang:
- Gobang Maju Patin Tempoyak
- Kancil Raja Patin
- Teratak Patin Bangau
5. Perak - Mee Udang
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Ipoh has certainly elevated Perak into one of Malaysia’s food paradises. Whether it’s the bean sprouts chicken rice, egg tarts or tau fu fah that won you over, the abundance of tasty food will make you return for more. Popular among locals (and still unbeknown to tourists), prawn noodles is one of the local favourites in Perak.
Where to get mee udang in Perak:
- Restoran Mee Udang Mak Jah
- Restoran Mee Rebus Ramli
- Restoran Mee Udang Nur Zetty
6. Melaka - Chicken Rice Balls
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Chicken rice may sound way too ordinary but there is something special about it when it is rolled into delicious little balls! Served with crispy and juicy roast chicken, it's not uncommon for people to travel to Melaka to have a taste of this unique dish.
Where to get chicken rice balls in Melaka:
- Ee Ji Ban Chicken Rice Ball
7. Perlis - Ikan Bakar
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At the edge of Kuala Perlis, you can easily find a row of seafood restaurants that are popular for ikan bakar. Thanks to their close proximity to the sea, the ikan bakar that make its way to the table are always fresh.
Where to get ikan bakar in Perlis:
- Restoran Api Api Ikan Bakar
- Lizamat Ikan Bakar Kola Komalaut
- Restoran Nyiru Klasik Ikan Bakar
8. Terengganu - Nasi Dagang
Credit: @moktehnasidagang on Instagram
Every Malaysian knows that a trip to Terengganu would be incomplete without sampling nasi dagang. A classic dish crowned with flavourful fish curry, pickled cucumber and carrots, nasi dagang is a famous lunch staple on this side of Peninsular Malaysia.
Where to get nasi dagang in Terengganu:
- Nasi Dagang Atas Tol
- Mak Ngah Nasi Dagang
- Nasi Dagang Kak Jah
9. Negeri Sembilan - Masak Lemak Cili Api
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Friends from Negeri Sembilan would agree that their version of masak lemak cili api is unlike any other. The combination of fresh turmeric, coconut milk and bird’s eye chilies play a role in amplifying the unique flavours of this Negeri Sembilan favourite.
Where to get masak lemak cili api in Negeri Sembilan:
- Sabak Salai Negeri Sembilan
- Warung Salai Port Dickson
- Warung Salai Seremban
10. Sabah - Tuaran Mee
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Tuaran mee is arguably one of the most well-known noodle dishes in Sabah. A good plate of Tuaran mee typically consist of special yellow egg noodles that are fried and later topped with the dish's signature sauce and ingredients like barbecued meat, egg rolls and green vegetables.
Where to get Tuaran mee in Sabah:
- Tuaran Mee Restoran
11. Sarawak - Mee Kolo
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Sarawak is known for many yummy local delicacies, and one of them includes the popular mee kolo. A noodle dish that is lightly tossed with meat, spring onion, garlic and light soy sauce, it is a Sarawakian staple that everyone knows and loves.
Where to get mee kolo in Sarawak:
- Mi Cangker Rudy Amad
- Dapor Yunie
- Mee Kolok Kak Bedah
12. Kedah - Laksa Kedah
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When it comes to flavours from the north, Kedah is exceptionally proud of their very own laksa. Also known as laksa Kedah or laksa utara, this rice noodle dish strikes the perfect balance between sour and sweet, thanks to the use of ikan kembung and tamarind apple. Laksa Kedah is better when topped with coconut sambal or sambal nyiur, as the locals called it.
Where to get laksa Kedah in Kedah:
- Zakaria Laksa Teluk Kechai
- Laksa Ikan Sekoq
- Maksu Laska Dapur Arang
13. Johor - Laksa Johor
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It’s true, you can only find the best laksa Johor in the Malaysian state itself! Unlike other laksa dishes in Malaysia, this particular dish actually uses spaghetti instead of the normal rice noodles. With an array of condiments and herbs like cucumber, bean sprouts, long beans, daun kesum and daun selasih, it's a hearty dish you can't pass up.
Where to get laksa Johor in Johor:
- Restoran Fainanos Laksa Johor & Ikan Bakar
- Restoran Mak Teh
- Warong Rasa-Rasa Johor
So, did we get most of these dishes right? Let us know which of these iconic food you would try and if there are others that would better represent each state! ?